Rhapsody of Fire - _From Chaos to Eternity_
(Nuclear Blast, 2011)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (8.5 out of 10)
I am reviewing this record out of necessity. Rhapsody (along with Manowar) was my introduction into the world of metal during the mid '00s. For a while, I thought all metal was obsessed with dragons and wizards. In a press release reported by Blabbermouth, Rhapsody of Fire's tenth studio is supposedly ending the Dark Secret saga. My monocle just fell in my martini glass. I understand more information is needed, but before I explain more, I will take a moment of exhale a geeky breath shared by other Rhapsody fans as well as fantasy enthusiasts.

Rhapsody of Fire (formally known as Rhapsody) is an Italian power metal band insanely concerned with an continual high fantasy series of concept records which have been ongoing since the group's inception in 1997. The first five records were a part of the Emerald Sword saga, in which the Warrior of Ice attempts to achieve the Emerald Sword through a variety of trials and tribulations. The Dark Secret saga takes place a few years after the original story, with new characters depicting their quest to find the seventh book of a collection which will illuminate the coming of seven demons which will in turn unlock a hellish dimension of monsters. _From Chaos to Eternity_ is the conclusion of a story started in 2004 with the release of _Symphony of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret_. Whether or not this marks the ending of Rhapsody's fantasy inspired lyrics or the beginning of a new fantasy cycle is not important, as _From Chaos To Eternity_ is crafted in such determination and quality -- it has taken the band eight albums to finally make a decent argument for recognition.

The fact I am referring to Rhapsody of Fire as two different names also needs explanation. Rhapsody, formally known as Thundercross, ran into legal troubles in 2006 with the online music sharing site of the same name. Rhapsody changed their name to "Rhapsody of Fire" and attempted to reinvent themselves in a thinly veiled rebranding effort. Rhapsody's determination in the face of hilarious obstacles speaks to a kind hearted metal group who just wants to write about dragons for the rest of their life. The fact the band have survived this long in the face of legal troubles, label disputes and quiet snickers by the metal community adds to the charm of a well natured dungeon master who loves everything he does despite public opinion. The conclusion of the Dark Secret saga is not only an album, but the conclusion to an era which has been the centerpiece for the band since their inception. It is time to give Rhapsody of Fire a standing ovation they have fought (with enchanted sword) for.

It would be irresponsible and impossible of me to evaluate Rhapsody of Fire without speaking of their legacy. There has been some incredible low points in the band's career, including a large part of the Dark Secret saga. _Frozen Tears of the Angel_ was released in 2010 following a long hiatus due to disputes with the band's former label Magic Circle Music (founded by Manowar). When crafting a fantasy epic, it is almost impossible to keep the real word at bay. Much of The Dark Secret saga was mired in lack of passion and quiet frustration. This of course changed with the 2010 release of not only _Frozen Tears of an Angel_ but a 35 minute, seven part EP entitled _The Cold Embrace of Fear_. Whatever has plagued the band in the past is gone, as Rhapsody of Fire creates one of the most dazzling and ostentatious power metal records of the year.

"Ad Infinitum" begins with a prologue by actor Christopher Lee, who has been voicing narration for the band since 2006. "Ad Infinitum" is merely a procession into the album's opening track "From Chaos to Eternity". The title track is so well balanced in symphonic elements, power metal traditions and operatic ridiculousness, it is one of the best tracks Rhapsody of Fire has ever done. The title track is only the overture in a record which is incredibly versatile and stands as a fitting conclusion to a saga which has been far overlooked for too long. Over the next 55 minutes, the listener is thrown into a world where angels, monsters and possibly wizards battle on a mythological landscape. Rhapsody of Fire nails their role as not only skilled musicians, but firm believers in a world where fantasy and symphonic metal can coexist in harmony.

There are many aspects which I judge Rhapsody on, but most important is their longest track. Since the beginning, Rhapsody of Fire have always included a song with multiple parts which extends far past others. This track, usually at the end, is a time for the band to construct a multi part narration which acts as a turning point of conclusion in the story. _From Chaos to Eternity_'s premiere track is "Heroes of the Waterfall Kingdom", which not only stands as a highlight on the album but is one of the better 19 minute songs in Rhapsody's catalog. Achieving this success is a combination of narration, competent sections and ridiculously fast guitar solos. One of the problems which plagued Rhapsody of Fire in the past was the tendency to deliver the story at the sacrifice of musical composition. This was particularly true with their 2006 _Triumph or Agony_, in which they sounded like voice actors delivering mystery radio. "Heroes of the Waterfall Kingdom" delivers a reasonable amount of story on the wings of ever climatic musical composition. It finishes the story and leaves the listener with a sense of finality and closure -- something Rhapsody of Fire fails to do.

I began into the world of symphonic metal out of slight irony and a latent love for fantasy storylines. Fantasy based power metal usually comes with enjoyment as well as embarrassing shame. This is the same enjoyable shame which also accompanies reading a majority of fantasy fiction not limited to Forgotten Realms, David Eddings and any Robert Jordan books after the first installment. _From Chaos to Eternity_ is not only respectable, it maybe one of the few albums which could make it to the end of the year. This is surprising, because if the album was a book, it would be a thousand pages paperback and cost 8 dollars to buy. 2011 may be a time when fantasy creeps into the realms of serious metal and when dragons soar above all others.

Contact: http://www.rhapsodyoffire.com/

(article published 23/7/2011)

5/29/2010 K Sarampalis 7 Rhapsody of Fire - The Frozen Tears of Angels
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